Subverting Transphobia and Challenging Ignorance
The Interactive Construction of Resistant Identity in a Community of Practice of Transgender Youth
Keywords:community of practice, transgender, youth, identity, transphobia
In this article, I present two moments of interaction emerging from a focus group between young people who are members of a community of practice: a support group for transgender youth and their parents. Using discourse analysis, I demonstrate how the young people work collaboratively to construct a mutual identity, which foregrounds their shared experience of transgender issues and minimises differences between them. I argue that they do this to actively challenge and resist the discrimination they experience due to transphobia and ignorance, which includes attempts to ‘other’ them. I show how the young people ascribe themselves agency by subverting the heteronormative ideologies which inform this othering, thus constructing an active, resistant and validated mutual identity rather than a victimised, submissive or othered one. This identity work tells us much about the hugely important role played by support groups in helping young people to construct a positive persona in the face of transphobic discrimination.
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